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Union gives Swedish job agency failing grade

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Union gives Swedish job agency failing grade
11:44 CEST+02:00
Sweden's powerful metalworkers union, IF Metall, has launched its own job-placement scheme, saying the country's scandal-hit jobs agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) has not used its funds to educate job seekers despite high demand for welders and machinists.

"Were not talking long training programmes here. It takes six months to educate a welder who then becomes employable," IF Metall spokesman Anders Fredriksson told The Local on Tuesday.

"We know there is demand because we are present in workplaces where managers feel they can't get a hold of competent employees".

The union's Competence Database (Kompetensbanken), unveiled on Tuesday, will now help the union's 340,000 members find jobs. The launch is a huge thumbs-down to the jobs agency, which has been mired in scandal the last few months.

In June, TV4 news reported that only 14 percent of recruitment by small business owners took place with the help of the agency. At the weekend, the employment agency's CEO was fired by the government after the board made its discontent with her leadership publicly known last week.

On Monday, the TT news agency found that the agency's board chairwoman leads an education company that recently had to give back state funding after overstating the number of students in a further education course used by the agency.

"Our members feel things take a very long time with the agency," Fredriksson said. "It doesn't feel right that you have to wait for help during your redundancy notice, or even afterwards, when there are jobs to be had."

IF Metall also criticized the agency for not using its budget to its full potential.

"They are sending back money to the state every year instead of making sure long-term unemployed get into training programmes so they can get jobs," Fredriksson said.

Among the union's members, almost ten percent are out of work at present. The rate varies considerably across the country. The Saab meltdown two years ago in Trollhättan in western Sweden has left unemployment there hovering at about 30 percent. Young members in Blekinge County in southern Sweden, meanwhile, have the same unemployment rate, due largely to the financial downturn in 2009.

Ann Törnkvist

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